Psalm 107 (Download Psalm 107.mp3) is full of vivid stories of people in trouble who called on God. My favorite one is the merchants on the deep:
Others went out to the sea in ships;
they were merchants on the mighty waters.
They saw the works of the Lord,
his wonderful deeds in the deep.
For he spoke and stirred up a tempest
that lifted high the waves.
They mounted up to the heavens and went down to the depths;
in their peril their courage melted away.
They reeled and staggered like drunken men;
they were at their wits' end.
Then they cried out to the Lord in their trouble,
and he brought them out of their distress.
He still the storm to a whisper;
the waves of the sea were hushed.
They were glad when it grew calm,
and he guided them to their desired haven.
I've always been an admirer of the seafaring peoples. The Greeks. The Venetians and the Genoese. The English. The Hawaiians. Travel generally broadens the mind, but there's something about sea travel especially. The solidarity of sailors who sink or sail together. The sailor requires courage in the face of the storms of the deep, but courage in this case is detached from the bloodshed which is too often the context for exercising that virtue. And sailing peoples can't usually dominate the landed peoples they encounter, so trade rather than conquest tends to be their usual mode of relating to each other.
UPDATE: A cynical take on this psalm: it is a case study in (a) religion as social control, and (b) the "God in the gaps" argument. The psalmist goes on to exhort the merchants: "Let them exalt him [the Lord] in the assembly of the people and praise him in the council of the elders." This exhortation is not given after the other vignettes. The merchants, having made their voyages successfully and enriched themselves, now have access to the council of the elders. Let them not use their influence for greedy ends, but to exalt the Lord, which may imply charity towards the poor, since the Old Testament is endlessly repeating that the Lord is "the protector of the fatherless," "he shall adopt for his own the orphan and widow," etc. By reminding the merchants of their former peril, and attributing their good fortune to divine intervention, the psalmist wants to convince them to contribute to the Social Democrats' campaign chest (speaking figuratively, of course).
Second, the psalmist calls storms "the Lord['s]... wondrous deeds in the deep." It is the modern custom to attribute storms to the workings of natural laws, with the corollary that the former attribution of these to God or to gods was simply a failure of the ancients and medievals to understand the causes of storms. Since we now know why storms are really caused, we don't need to attribute them to divinity. The funny thing about this argument is that those who make it wouldn't usually claim to know how storms are caused, themselves, in any thoroughgoing way: rather, they attribute this knowledge to "science." Yet the attempt to predict and control weather using science has been a long-standing chimera: we can occasionally seed snowclouds, but the weather forecast is notoriously unpredictable to this day, even when it is looking only a day ahead. Indeed, if you combine the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle with "chaos theory," nature may well be not only non-deterministic but radically contingent. There are plenty of gaps for God to be in, after all.
Another objection to the "God in the gaps" argument is theological: it seems inconsistent with divine justice. Indeed, in the passage above, why should the merchants "give thanks to the Lord for his unfailing love and his wonderful deeds to men?" God calmed the sea for their benefit, but he was the one who called up the storm in the first place. The best you can say for him is that the seas are his, and he has a right to stir up "wonderful deeds" in them whenever he likes, so it was kind of him to take a break so that the merchants could get to their "desired haven" and make money. But that doesn't quite seem like "unfailing love." Even God's courtesy seems a bit inconsistent.
Understandings of God have certainly changed since then, since the advent of Christianity. To me though, there's still a grandeur in the older conception of God in the psalms-- something fiercer, and at the same time more whimsical. It is a credit to the Jews that they persisted in loving this God when they perceived so imperfectly the benevolence of his ultimate design. "The cut worm forgives the plow."